You may have practiced your basic knitting stitches by now, and feel confident enough to make yourself something useful. Here is a step-by-step tutorial on how to knit a scarf to get you started. A scarf is one of the easiest things to knit since it is essentially just a long rectangle. All you need to do is cast on, learn one or two stitches, and then cast off. It really is a quick and easy process.
- How to Knit a Scarf For Absolute Beginners Tutorial
- Knitting Basics
- How To Knit a Scarf in Garter Stitch (Easy Scarf Pattern)
- How to Make a Scarf with Fringing
- How To Knit A Scarf With Rib Stitch (Rib Scarf Pattern)
- How To Knit A Scarf in Different Sizes
- How to Knit a Scarf FAQs
- How to Knit a Scarf - In Conclusion
- Free Knitting Patterns
- How to Knit a Scarf for Beginners
How to Knit a Scarf For Absolute Beginners Tutorial
This easy tutorial will show you how to knit a scarf with a simple garter stitch or a rib stitch knitting pattern. These are the easiest knitting stitches for beginners to make a scarf.
I will also go through adding fringing to your scarf to make it even more deluxe.
What you Need to Knit a Scarf
- YARN - You can use any weight but I like chunky/bulky yarn (weight 5). I used 2 balls of Lion Brand Thick and Quick.
- KNITTING NEEDLES - Size 9-11 needles. (5.5-8 mm)
- EXTRAS - Scissors, Tapestry Needle, Tape Measure
Best Yarn for Knitting Scarves
Which type of yarn should you choose? This is very much a personal choice, but here are some pointers.
Acrylic yarn is an ideal yarn to use, it is easy to work with, inexpensive, and comes in a wonderful array of colors. Just be sure to choose a soft acrylic, so that it feels comfortable around your neck.
Acrylic/wool blends are also a good choice, as they are easy to care for, not as costly as pure wool, and they still have that soft wool feel.
Natural fibers such as wool, alpaca, angora, etc, are wonderfully soft, look good, and are a pleasure to knit with. The disadvantages are that they are expensive and require a lot more tender loving care when washing them!
Many people are sensitive to wool and the wool against your tender neck skin could be an itchy mistake! It is, however, lovely and warm.
Cotton or bamboo is not really ideal for winter scarves, they are not as warm as acrylic or wool, and are inelastic, so won’t drape as nicely. They are also more difficult to work with, as they split easily.
What Yarn Weight is Best for a Knitted Scarf?
Generally speaking, learner knitters should use a smooth, double knit thickness of yarn as it is the easiest to work with. However, if you want to knit up that scarf quickly, chunky or bulky yarn is ideal.
In my samples, I used Lionbrand Thick and Quick Yarn which is a category 5 bulky type. This knitted up quickly and didn't split. The finished sample feels thick, soft, and definitely warm.
Yarns have different names in many countries so here is a comparison chart. The yarn I used can be called bulky, category 5, chunky or 12 ply.
How Much Yarn Do I Need For A Scarf?
Once again, this is dependent on the type of yarn, the stitch pattern, and the thickness of the needles. The length of yarn in a ball will be printed on the label band. As a rough guide:
- Bulky Yarn (Weight 5): 250- 375 yds (230-340m)
- Double Knit Yarn (Weight 4): 375- 500 yds (340- 460m)
- Fine Yarn (Weight 3): 400-500 yds ( 365-460 m)
Or you can just choose the width of your scarf and knit until you run out of yarn!
Best Knitting Needles to Knit a Scarf
You will need to look at the ball band of your yarn to see what size knitting needle you require. The material your needles are made of will come down to personal choice.
Bamboo needles are light and easy to work with and are inexpensive. Steel needles are strong, yarn slides over them easily, and they will last you a lifetime. Plastic needles are light and undemanding to work with.
What Size Knitting Needles to Knit a Scarf
Always check the yarn label for the knitting needle size. You can go for slightly bigger needles to make up your scarf faster. My Lion Brand Thick and Quick recommended a 9mm or size 13 knitting needles.
Here are some recommended knitting needle sizes you can pair with the different yarn weights. I used a size 9 knitting needle with bulky weight yarn.
Gauge To Knit a Scarf
This is one of the few times you won’t have to worry too much about a gauge swatch. Because you are simply knitting a long rectangle, it does not have to fit precisely, and it won’t really matter if your scarf is a little longer or shorter, or wider or narrower.
How To Knit a Scarf in Garter Stitch (Easy Scarf Pattern)
Step 1 - How to Cast On for a Scarf
The easiest knit cast on method for beginners is the single cast on. This is also known as the wrap or thumb method of casting on. You need to have a long tail end for this.
Create a slip knot and place it on the right knitting needle.
Now wrap the end of the yarn around your left thumb.
Using your right hand, insert the needle into this loop from below.
Wrap the working yarn around the needle.
Pull the yarn back.
Slip that loop onto your needle, remove your thumb, and tighten up firmly, by pulling on the tail end of the yarn. You will now have 2 stitches on your needle, the slip knot and this first stitch you have created.
Continue creating stitches in this way until you have 18 stitches or enough stitches for the width of your scarf.
How Many Stitches Do You Need to Knit a Scarf
Using bulky yarn, an average of 18 stitches is a good start. Look at the gauge of your yarn label to work out the number of stitches across 4 inches. Then multiply that by the width you desire.
For example, on the Lion Brand Thick and Quick, it says the knitting gauge is 9 stitches across per 4 inches. So I cast on 18 stitches to make a scarf 8 inches wide.
Step 2 - Knit a Garter Stitch for a Scarf
Insert the tip of the right needle into the first stitch on the left needle, from left to right, and from front to back. You will be forming a cross with the needles. The right needle must be behind the left needle.
Wrap the yarn in front of the needle and then down between the needles.
Bring the tip of the right needle through the loop on the left-hand needle, with the yarn still wrapped around
Pull the right needle through to the front.
Slide the needle to the right, until the old loop on the left needle drops off.
You will now have a new stitch on the right needle.
Now repeat these steps until you have worked through all 18 stitches on the left needle.
Turn your work so the stitches are on the left and the empty needle is on the right again.
Step 3 - Continue Knitting
Start again from the beginning of the instructions, and knit your way across this row.
Keep knitting until the scarf is the desired length.
Step 4 - How to Join a New Skein When Knitting a Scarf
You may find that one ball of yarn is not enough to complete your scarf. Joining different colors can create a beautiful striped scarf.
When this happens, you will need to join on a new ball. You can just tie the 2 ends in a knot. I always try and do this at the end of a row as it is easier to weave in the tails later.
To avoid knots and lumps, there are two more ways to join in the new yarn.
Leave a tail from the old yarn of about 6” (15cm). Make an equal tail from the new yarn. Lay the new tail behind your needles.
Hold it in place while you knit 3 stitches. Give it a slight tug to check that the yarn is secure, then continue knitting. When you have completed your scarf, weave in those tails securely.
Leave a longer tail, say about 10”. (25cm.) Take the new yarn, pull out an equal tail, and lay it next to the old yarn tail. Now hold them together just like 1 strand of yarn, and knit 3 stitches with both strands.
Tug on the new yarn to make sure it is secure. Drop the old strand and continue to knit with the new strand. Weave the tails in securely once your scarf is complete.
Step 5 - How to Cast Off for a Scarf
Knit the first 2 stitches. Insert the left needle into the first stitch. Lift that first stitch, and pass it over the second stitch. There will be 1 stitch left on the needle and 1 stitch cast off
Knit the next stitch. Repeat the movement of lifting the new stitch over the old stitch.
Keep repeating this process until there is only 1 stitch left.
Cut the yarn, leaving a 6” (15cm) tail for weaving in later. Pull the tail through the last remaining stitch so that it holds the loop in place. Pull tight.
You can now weave the tails. Thread the tail through a tapestry needle eye and weave it through the side in an up and down motion.
How to Make a Scarf with Fringing
A fringe gives a lovely finish to a scarf and is a great way to use up excess yarn. You will need a crochet hook to help with this.
Decide how long you want the fringe to be. Cut the yarn into lengths twice as long as the finished fringe. So, for example, if you want the fringe to measure 6”, (15cm), cut the lengths of yarn to 12” (30 cm) lengths.
To work out how many pieces to cut, use 2 pieces of yarn per stitch. So if you have cast on 18 stitches, you will need 36 pieces of yarn for each side.
To fringe both sides, you will need 72 lengths of yarn. You can just use your first measured length to measure all the rest of your fringe pieces.
Now fold two lengths of yarn in half. Insert the crochet hook into the first stitch and then use it to hook the folded loop of fringe. Pull the loop through, just about ⅓ of the way.
Slip all 4 ends of the yarn through the loop. Pull it gently to tighten it up.
Continue adding another 2 pieces of yarn to each stitch along the edge of the scarf. When complete, trim the ends of the fringe to even it up nicely.
How To Knit A Scarf With Rib Stitch (Rib Scarf Pattern)
If you are confident with knitting both knit and purl stitches, a ribbed scarf is just as easy to make. It has a lovely look with ridges and is more springy and squishy that a garter stitch scarf.
You will need to cast on more stitches, as when knitting rib the fabric gathers together and becomes narrower. Hence the extra warmth and squishiness!
- Cast On: Using chunk or bulky yarn, cast on 24 stitches.
- Row 1: Knit 2, *purl 2, knit 2. Repeat from * to end.
- Row 2: Knit 1, purl 1, knit 2, * purl 2, knit 2, repeat from * to last 2 stitches, purl 1, knit 1.
- Repeat: Keep knitting until the scarf reaches the length you require.
- Cast Off: Cast off in rib.
This change in row 2 helps prevent the scarf from curling and gives a neater edge.
How To Knit A Scarf in Different Sizes
Because you are simply knitting a long, thin rectangle, it is easy to judge what size scarf you want and adjust it accordingly. Or you can just knit until you run out of yarn! If you feel you need a bit of guidance, here are some average sizes for scarves.
|SIZE||WIDTH OF SCARF||LENGTH OF SCARF|
|Women||5- 10” (12.5-25cm)||55” (140cm)|
|Small Child||4- 4½“ (10-12cm)||40” (102cm)|
|Older Child||5-6” (12.5-15cm)||50” (127cm)|
How Wide Should a Scarf Be?
Most knitted scarves are around 8 inches (20cm) wide but they can be up to 12 inches wide (30cm). There is no right or wrong - just cast on as many stitches as you like.
How Long Should a Scarf Be?
On average, most scarves as around 55 to 70 inches (140-178cm) in length. It really is a subjective choice - some people like really long scarves which can wrap around the neck multiple times, and some prefer a short scarf that can tuck into a coat or jacket.
You can also use hand length, from wrist to fingertips to judge width, and the height of the person to judge length.
It is better to make shorter scarves for children so that they don’t trip over the long ends while running or playing!
How to Knit a Scarf FAQs
What Stitch is Best for a Scarf?
The best stitch for a scarf is the knit stitch or garter stitch. This easy stitch gives a warm and cozy scarf that makes up quickly. You can however use other stitches such as moss stitch. Just keep in mind that it needs to be reversible, as both sides of the scarf will show.
It also needs to be a stitch that doesn’t curl, unless you add a border. This is why stockinette stitch is not used for a scarf very often.
Is It Difficult To Knit A Scarf?
Not at all! No shaping is required, so as long as you know how to knit (and possibly purl) you can easily make a scarf. All you need is perseverance to keep knitting through all that length!
How Long Does It Take To Knit A Scarf?
This is one of those ‘How long is a piece of string?’ type questions! A lot depends on the stitch pattern you choose, as well as the thickness of your yarn and needles. The width and length of your scarf will also factor in here. An average size scarf, in a simple stitch pattern, on thick needles, with thick yarn, should take around 2-3 hours.
How to Knit a Scarf That Does Not Roll?
This is all about making the right choice of stitch. A stockinette stitch will always roll making your scarf much narrower than you probably wish. Use a garter stitch to make a flat, reversible scarf that does not roll.
How to Knit a Scarf - In Conclusion
Now that you have all the information you need for knitting a scarf at your fingertips, give it a try. You can start simply with a basic garter stitch scarf, and move on to other stitch patterns and yarn types as you get more confident. With very little effort, you can have a whole wardrobe of different scarves, and you can start gifting scarves as well! Enjoy your knitting!
Free Knitting Patterns
Here are some more scarf knitting patterns as well as wraps and infinity scarves.
- Knitting Needles Size 9mm
- Yarn Bulky (Category 5)
- Create a slip knot and place it on your knitting needle.
- Cast on 18 stitches or your desired scarf width.
- Knit stitch across all rows.
- Repeat until the scarf is your desired length.
- Cast off and weave in all tails.